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Posts for tag: bad breath

By Bill Kuttler, DDS
March 15, 2016

I was watching TV over the weekend and saw several separate ads promoting fresh breath, nice smiles, and a dating site. The key concept of the dating site was all about getting a second date. It stressed in a variety of ways that the first date was not a big deal, but having a connection good enough to warrant a second date was huge!

It made me wonder how many people go out for a first date, but don't make it to a second. And how many of those ‘failed’ dates are related to bad breath?

Studies show that half of adults have had bad breath at some time in their lives, and I bet the number is actually far larger than that. There are lots of reasons why people get bad breath. Many are harmless, although annoying, and others are an important warning of much bigger problems. 

  • Garlic, onions, and coffee are perhaps the things we most commonly associate with bad breath. Of course there are many other problem foods and beverages, but these probably deserve their bad reputation. Yes, what we eat does affect our breath. So if you’re trying to make a second date a reality, you might want to pay attention to what you eat on your first date! 
  • Tobacco use is another frequent cause of problems. I suspect we all know smoking isn’t good for us, but some people don’t realize it’s also a cause of stained teeth and bad breath. Further, it reduces people’s sense of taste and smell, so they aren’t even aware of the impact it has on how their breath smells!
  • Most bad breath happens thanks to hundreds of types of bacteria that naturally live in our mouths. When we eat, they do too, and often leave bad smelling waste behind. And of course, what we eat sometimes helps determine how those waste products smell….
  • A related issue is if your mouth often feels dry, you might not be creating enough saliva. Saliva is essential to help “rinse out” your mouth. Without enough “spit”, your mouth isn’t lubricated, setting the stage for waste products to collect and smell. Dry mouth can be caused by medications, by breathing through your mouth, and sometimes also with age, as the quality and quantity of saliva changes. What can make it worse is that people who struggle with a dry mouth or bad breath often resort to mouth washes that contain lots of alcohol. While that may temporarily mask the dry feeling or the odor, the alcohol dries out your mouth and makes the problem worse!

Bad breath that always seems to be present and is often accompanied by a bad taste may be a sign of gum disease. So if you notice either of these problems a lot, it’s extremely important to seek dental care right away – call us! Other mouth infections can also cause bad breath, and we can help you determine if the problem is being caused by a problem in your mouth. 

Your bad breath could also be the result of a systemic problem, such as a sinus condition, gastric reflux, diabetes, liver or kidney disease. So if you have a persistent problem and have ruled out dental issues, it is very important for your over-all health for you to see your medical doctor to investigate the issue further.

If you’ve dealt with all of the previously mentioned issues and bad breath is still an occasional problem, what else can you do to prevent it? First, of course, is to make sure you are doing an effective and thorough job of cleaning your mouth. Note I didn’t say “brush and floss”. Thorough brushing, ideally more than once a day, cleaning between your teeth, and scrubbing your tongue are all important facets to effectively cleaning your mouth. Ask us to coach you based on your individual circumstances on this very important issue.

If you wear removable dentures, be sure to thoroughly clean them as well, and clean the tissue underneath where they rest in your mouth. Leaving them out overnight also often helps.

If you have a dry mouth and we haven’t already discussed it with you, talk with us about steps you can take to get more saliva flowing. Eating healthy foods that require lots of chewing often helps and chewing sugar-free gum may also help. There are also over-the-counter products that are designed to help this problem. We can recommend the appropriate choices for your situation. If you are taking medications, talk with your doctor about your dry mouth. It may be possible to change your medications and find one equally effective that doesn’t reduce your saliva flow.

Eliminating smoking is a given. I know for most people that isn’t easy, but it really will change the health of your mouth as well as the rest of your body!

And if you’ve done everything else I’ve mentioned, and you really want to get a second date, using an alcohol-free mouthwash on an occasional basis may help. It may dislodge some of the bacteria and debris in your mouth and improve the situation for a short term “fix”. 

And who knows, maybe the second date will result in a lifetime of happiness! And perhaps effective care will result in a lifetime of good oral health! There’s a win – win!

By Bill Kuttler, DDS
June 08, 2014
Tags: dry mouth   mouthwash   mouth rinses   bad breath  

When I was a kid, if I happened to utter a “bad” word, my mother threatened to wash my mouth out with soap.  And back then, that was about the only time I even thought of a mouthwash.  I guess I was really glad I didn’t ever have to use one!

Today, mouthwashes (more properly known as mouth rinses) have become big business–certainly not as big as toothpastes, but big, nonetheless.  And while they don’t get as much space in a grocery or drugstore aisle, they also have a fairly prominent location.

Not that many years ago, I dismissed mouth rinses as purely a cover-up approach for bad breath.  And I encouraged people to save their money and find out what was causing the bad breath (cavities, indigestion, gum disease, medical concerns such as diabetes, or various other issues).

In our new world, it’s not that simple anymore.  But in other ways, it is fairly simple.  The most important question I’d suggest you ask yourself is “why do I want to use a mouth rinse?”  The answer to that question will certainly guide your search.  And, as with toothpastes, starting with me or our dental hygienists is probably the best place to start.

If you want to use a mouth rinse to give your mouth a fresh taste or scent, there are lots of choices, and you simply need to find one that you like.  BUT, if you are relying on that rinse to deal with chronic bad taste or odor issues, there is probably an underlying problem that you need to address.  Again, please talk with one of us about that.

Many of today’s mouth rinses DO provide some therapeutic value.  Some of them help prevent cavities.  Others are designed to prevent or reduce the severity of gum disease.  Still others contain products to reduce the oral sores and pain that often occur secondary to cancer treatments.  Some are invaluable for people with dry mouths.  Some claim to reduce sensitivity and, no surprise, some claim to whiten teeth (they don’t!)

In many of these cases the benefits may be realized more effectively by using different products than mouth rinses (often, but not always, with toothpastes), but that doesn’t mean that mouth rinses don’t provide some help.  And in other cases, these may provide the best help, particularly for problems that may occur during some types of cancer treatment.  Another important use that really can’t be treated any other way with other dental products is for the treatment for dry mouth.  If someone lives with a dry mouth, either as a side effect of various medications or due to a lack of saliva production, specific oral rinses can provide the best approach.  Some people find simply taking small sips of water frequently helps, but others find mouth rinses specifically designed for this problem to be invaluable.

The single best advantage of mouth rinses is that they are easy to use–just swish and expectorate (spit).  Many people find that advantage alone very worthwhile.  And in some instances that advantage is huge, even from a dental professional’s perspective.  Again, that is most often the case when someone’s mouth is simply too sore and / or irritated to even allow for gentle brushing.

However, the advantage of “easy” is often a disadvantage that we dental professionals don’t like.  “Easy” is often not “best”.  Often toothpastes when applied appropriately and effectively with the appropriate toothbrush that is well-positioned and carefully used, will achieve better results.  And certainly that approach allows for better “targeting” for problem areas.

The bottom line is that when the correct mouth rinses are used for a specific reason, they can achieve positive results for many people.  Unless there is some allergic issue to an ingredient, there are generally no harmful effects to mouth rinses for most people.  If you want to learn more specifics, ask us.  We are always happy to be your resource to assist you in finding a product to help you with whatever concern you may have.

This article originally appeared in Dubuque 365ink magazine. It is republished with permission from the publication.